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Senators write Obama concerning propane supplies

Associated Press/Charles Dharapak

Associated Press/Charles Dharapak

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss) are among 29 senators who have asked the Obama administration to be more engaged in overcoming a steep drop in propane supplies, a situation that is driving up prices for rural residents and farmers, according to the senators.

In a letter sent to President Obama yester, the bipartisan group of senators cited the escalating residential and wholesale propane price increases resulting from a significant drop in propane supplies. An Energy Information Agency report shows propane stocks are 24 million barrels lower than last year, a nearly 44 percent decline.

“Homes, businesses and farms desperately need propane, and the shortage threatens the safety of families and the financial stability of farms and businesses,” the letter signed by Cochran and Wicker states. “Thankfully, propane suppliers are already responding to market forces and taking extraordinary steps to increase supplies in hard-hit areas. Until propane stocks recover, the government should continue to provide and/or expand short-term regulatory relief to incentivize these activities.”

The letter encourages the President to engage all relevant agencies to address the propane shortage, which has been made worse by extreme cold weather conditions in a large portion of the nation, including Mississippi and other states in the South. Diminished rail deliveries and pipeline maintenance issues have also contributed to propane supply disruptions.

“We ask you to identify and implement sensible strategies, provided by law, to guide federal agencies in assisting states with efforts to mitigate the effects of the current propane shortage. In particular, we ask you to review all available options to facilitate and enable the transportation of propane to areas with shortages, via interstate pipelines and other modes of transportation,” the senators wrote.

In addition to Cochran and Wicker, the letter was signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Thune (S.D.).

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